ALBANY, N.Y. — In New York state government news, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking a look at taxes following the Republican tax overhaul in Washington, and big improvements to the Thruway may be in the works.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is considering big changes to the state tax code to blunt the blow of the federal tax overhaul.
The new federal tax code significantly limits a popular deduction for state and local taxes, meaning many people in high-tax states such as New York could see big increases in their tax bill.
During his State of the State address to lawmakers Wednesday, Cuomo said he wants to find a way to help reduce the increases, which he said could be as high as 25 percent for some homeowners. But in order to protect the state’s bottom line, any tax cut for middle-class New York property owners would need to be offset by increases in other taxes.
“It is clear that we must protect New York taxpayers from this assault,” Cuomo said. “And it’s clear that we must not allow big corporations to enjoy a windfall at the expense of our middle class and our working families.”
Though he didn’t offer details, Cuomo has hinted he might be looking at two different taxes: a payroll tax and a tax on carried interest. The former is similar to an income tax except the employer also pays a portion; a federal payroll tax supports Medicare and Social Security now. The latter would levy a tax on certain types of investment proceeds that, under a loophole in federal tax rules, aren’t subject to traditional income taxes. Cuomo referred to the loophole as a way “to give away revenue to people who don’t need it.”
Passing any kind of new tax will be a formidable political challenge in any year. This year, however, is an election year for Cuomo and the Legislature. Following Cuomo’s speech, top Republican lawmakers said Cuomo should focus more attention on cutting existing state spending as a way to reduce taxes, while helping businesses create more jobs to expand the tax base.
“The issues really hurting New Yorkers are self-inflicted wounds,” said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, an upstate Republican who is running for governor himself this year.
Details are expected when Cuomo releases his budget proposal this month.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to make major improvements to the entire 570-mile state Thruway system, including expanding cashless tolling and upgrading service areas.
The Democrat’s 2018 agenda unveiled this week includes a proposal to expand cashless tolling technology to some 60 toll collection points along the Thruway, which includes Interstate 90 between Albany and the Pennsylvania border southwest of Buffalo and I-87 from Albany to New York City.
Cashless tolls have been installed on I-87’s southbound lanes just before the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, formerly the Tappan Zee Bridge. The cashless technology is scheduled to go online on the Thruway’s Niagara section at Grand Island in March and at the Harriman toll plaza in the Hudson Valley in August.
The systems were implemented last year on New York City-area bridges and tunnels operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Cuomo also wants to see the technology installed at bridges and tunnels operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
As for the Thruway’s 27 service plazas providing fuel, food and restrooms, Cuomo says they’re in “dire need” of improvements. Thruway Authority officials say the last major remodeling of the facilities occurred in the early 1990s. The governor envisions a public-private partnership to upgrade the travel plazas with better customer amenities, technology and energy-efficient services.
A rail yard outside Syracuse could become an “inland port” for containerized freight under a proposal in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 legislative agenda released this week.
The state’s plan calls for expanding the CSX rail yard in the town of DeWitt to handle 30,000 containers a year via rail between central New York and ports in the New York-New Jersey region. A study by the state Department of Transportation says the project would lower shipping costs by $500 per container while boosting the local economy and easing congestion and wear and tear on highways and roads.
Shipping containers would be transported upstate on freight trains to the DeWitt yard, where they’ll be off-loaded onto trucks.
Local economic development officials had envisioned a larger rail hub project for another Syracuse-area location, but the DOT report said DeWitt was “the only viable site” for an inland port.